Bright Futures Scholarship FAQs – a Florida Student Scholarship Program

Bright Futures is the name of Florida State’s scholarship scheme. It is funded by the Florida Lottery, and it was first released in 1997. The plan provides three scholarships which are open to residents in Florida who attend a high school in Florida and an qualifying post-secondary college in Florida. Learn more about Bright Futures Scholarships and other important things you need to know about the financial aid scheme in this article.

Bright Futures Scholarship
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What is Bright Futures Scholarship?

The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, sponsored by the state of Florida, offers scholarships focused on academic performance in high schools. The Bright Futures Scholarship was meant to imitate the HOPE Scholarship of nearby state of Georgia. The Program initially allocated about $70 million for just over 42,000 scholarships. During the height of the initiative in 2008, it supported 39 percent of Florida high school students with scholarships, including 94 percent of incoming freshmen and 70 percent of all University of Florida undergraduates.

The program was focused purely on academic merit, and not financial need. During its peak in 2008, the system was blamed for incentivizing the schooling of affluent family students using lottery revenues obtained primarily from people with lower incomes. UF Chief Financial Officer Matt Fajack blamed the system for unfairly holding state university tuition down, as any rise in tuition would mean the government would have to invest more funds to cover scholarships under the system.

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In 2011, the Florida Legislature decreed cuts to support for Bright Futures by increasing the minimum SAT score required to apply for the scheme. The reforms take full force with the 2014 graduation class, raising the minimum score for A students from 1280 to 1290, and increasing the minimum score from 980 to 1170 for B students. Black and Latino students as well as students from largely disadvantaged schools were negatively impacted by the cuts. The system protected just 20 per cent of high school students in Florida by the 2015-16 academic year and provided an average of $2,000 a year.

Because of claims of racial profiling against black and Latino students, the U.S. Department of Education conducted an investigation into the Bright Futures system in 2014, focusing in particular on its impact on students from Miami-Dade County and Florida International University. Finally, the department found evidence of adverse impacts on minorities but no proof of racist motive.

What does the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship pay for?

Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) will receive an allowance to pay 100% of tuition costs and related costs as well as $300 for extra college expenses for both fall and spring semesters. Students attending a public university should be supported by the tuition and related fees.

Does Bright Futures pay for housing?

Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) entering public schools should be compensated by 100 per cent of their tuition and related fees. Students will also earn $300 per term to offset extra expenses, including room and board, books, or laboratory equipment.

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Can the scholarship be used for private universities?

The Bright Futures scholarships apply to private colleges in the state, but instead of paying the full cost of tuition and fees as it does for public institutions, it only pays a small amount of money, based on the number of credit hours you’re enrolled in.

How much does Bright Futures pay for private college?

Private school attendants earn $211 per credit hour plus $300 a semester for college-related costs, for the equivalent of the Florida Academic Scholarship.

What are the requirements for a Bright Futures Scholarship?

The Bright Futures criteria are very detailed, so to obtain the award you must meet all of them.

  • Be a native of Florida and a citizen of the United States or a qualifying noncitizen, as determined by the college that you wish to attend.
  • Upon graduating from high school, complete the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA) no later than 31 August. If you are graduating in 2019, for instance, you should apply by 31 August 2019.
  • Achieve a standard Florida high school diploma or similar from a public high school in Florida or a private high school licensed under Florida Department of Education (FDOE); or complete a home education program.
  • Not have been sentenced of a criminal charge, or pleaded nolo contendere to.
  • Be enrolled to a qualifying Florida public or private post-secondary school, and enroll in a degree or credential program.
  • Be registered for a total of 6 non-remedial credit hours a term a class.

What SAT score is required for Bright Futures?

Students have to score at least 1290 on the SAT or 29 on the ACT to apply for a Bright Futures Florida Academic Scholars award — the most prestigious and generous scholarship. Such scores put students almost at the top 10 percent nationally.

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How many services hours do you need for Bright Futures?

To apply for a Bright Futures Scholarship you must complete 30 hours of service by graduating from high school.

Do you need FAFSA for the scholarship?

For Bright Futures scholarship FAFSA is no longer needed. Next coming year, students earning Bright Futures grants will make it a bit easier. Anyone who earns this merit-based scholarship will no longer be forced to fill in a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, or FAFSA, to get it.

Can you take a gap year with Bright Futures?

Since you won’t be studying at FSU, support from Florida Bright Futures wouldn’t qualify for a gap year. FSU grants awarded to the recipient will be withheld until the recipient enrolls the next year. Students may check eligibility for financial deferment for private or other non-FSU scholarships  (e.g., ROTC Scholarships cannot be deferred). Gap year students should have to apply for federal financial aid (via FAFSA) during their gap year after October 1.

Can you use Bright Futures out of state?

The Bright Futures initiative provides merit-based scholarships to Florida natives who stay for college or vocational education in Florida (regrettably, if you attend college out of state, you won’t be eligible for an award).

Can you get a Pell Grant and Bright Futures?

You may get Florida Bright Futures and the Federal Pell Grant as long as they do not surpass the attendance costs.

When should I apply for the grant?

To apply for a Bright Futures Scholarship, a completed (error-free) Initial Student Florida Financial Aid Application must be sent during the last year of high school (after 1 December and before graduation).

Do you have to apply for Bright Futures every year?

All candidates of Bright Futures are expected to follow minimum credit hour standards and GPA criteria to renew their award annually. Students who have been enrolled full-time for both semesters must receive at least 24 semester hours to renew their grant at the end of each school year.

How do you know if you have Bright Futures?

Your eligibility is determined in the high school, depending on performance. Where to check the status of your application for a Bright Futures Scholarship: go to the Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) website and click on “Check My Status” under Applicants Quick Links.

Do you have to pay taxes on the scholarship?

If the recipient is not enrolled in a degree program, the IRS recognizes grants as taxable income. If you enroll in classes but are not on track to obtain a degree, otherwise a scholarship for Bright Futures and some other type of scholarship or grant will become taxable income.

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